Kapiti faces loss of Kenepuru after-hours service

Barbara Edmonds campaigns to keep after-hours medical services available
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Labour MP for Mana Barbara Edmonds says it would be disastrous for the critical clinic services at Kenepuru Hospital to close overnight. She says cutting after-hours services at Porirua’s only 24/7 clinic would have disastrous impacts for the communities it serves.

Kenepuru hospital services a population of more than 80,000 people from across Porirua, Tawa and the Kāpiti Coast — which has the highest density of over-65s in the country.

Te Whatu Ora proposed to close Kenepuru Hospital’s Accident and Medical Clinic between between 10pm and 8am from December 5 last year due to staffing shortages, which had become a nationwide issue.

“It’s a high-needs community that needs access to an after-hours service,” says Ms Edmonds, who is spearheading the campaign to keep Kenepuru’s doors open overnight.

She told Breakfast TV the impact of not staffing an overnight shift for the community would force people to travel between 30km and 70km to get to the nearest hospital after-hours.

“I’ve done a survey of 150 people just over the weekend and unanimously they want to keep it open,” she says.

Ms Edmonds has begun a “real grassroots campaign” involving the community filling out surveys and holding public meetings.

“I’ve met with the CE of our local iwi, who are one of the primary health organisations, they agree it needs to remain open. I’ve also met with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, they agree it needs to be open because their concerns are for the wider impacts on the health system in our region.

“If we need to, we will make a picket line in order to protest and make sure that Health New Zealand are listening to our community needs.”

Ms Edmonds said she wants the Government and Health New Zealand to be transparent about the data they’ve collected and speak with the community about their findings.

Health New Zealand responds

In a statement Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand said the urgent care clinic sees between seven and 14 “generally low-acuity presentations” between 10pm and 8am.

Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora’s Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley operations director Jamie Duncan says the agency is “focused on finding solutions to staffing issues”.

He says “The KAMC’s current situation is the result of a doctor shortage that is exacerbating our long-running challenges in staffing the overnight shift between 10pm and 8am. We remain committed to supporting our communities overnight and will be considering every option available.”

Kāpiti Councillor Martin Halliday

Kāpiti Coast Councillor Martin Halliday, Chair of the Social Sustainability Committee, says he completely supports Ms Edmonds’ campaign to have the service maintained.

“Barbara has my full support. Kenepuru provides vital after-hour services for the Kāpiti Coast and any reduction in health services available to Kāpiti residents is completely unacceptable.”

Cr Halliday says Kāpiti already suffers the burden of an under-supply of health services.

He says Government needs to focus on providing more health services, not less.